In The Hot Seat – Ian Rosewell, Procurement International

After more than 38 years at the helm of one of the UK’s leading rewards and incentive fulfillment businesses, Ian Rosewell, CEO of Procurement International is stepping down.

The family firm, founded by his father Victor Rosewell, has been a mainstay of the UK rewards, recognition and incentives industry. In fact, Victor was instrumental in the set-up of the BPMA in 1965. Ian Rosewell will not be totally lost to the industry. He is becoming a non-executive chairman and handing over executive responsibilities to the general manager successor, Andy Bell. “Over the last couple of years, I have been fine-tuning what the business structure will look like once I retire,” says Rosewell. “I want there to be a seamless transition.”

Retirement presents the opportunity to re-engage a love of black and white photography with a Leica camera, as well as spending time with family and a new dog, doing more motorcycle rides around Europe and getting his plane back in the air. Product Media caught up with him to rewind the past four decades.

Q.What have been the main challenges over 40 years?

A. The biggest challenge is managing our more than 150 vendor supply chain particularly as forecasting demand is something of a black art. Managing stock levels is challenging and that’s why our purchasing team has been our most heavy area of investment, to help us identify and maintain a supply of the latest must-have rewards in a portfolio of 5,000 products.

Q.What are the biggest changes during that time?

A. Where do I start? The business operates globally which has meant that it has had to try and be as robust and adaptable as possible to the numerous seismic shifts in the macroeconomic and political landscapes. There have also been several notable technological changes – the most obvious being the internet. The world and our marketplace became a lot more accessible overnight. It also became more visible which has led to many new entrants and an increase in competition. What has not changed is that our clients need a good service.

Q.What are you proudest of in terms of the business?

A. There have been many challenges, but by being innovative and agile we have continued

to grow from strength to. strength in the supply of premium merchandise to the rewards and recognition industry and now regularly ship to program participants in more than 125 countries annually. Apart from long-term success and reputation, it would be the culture that I have created.

We truly practice what we preach in that we have a very long-serving and loyal backbone of staff that helped me build the business. I am also exceptionally proud of all my work colleagues, who are a dedicated bunch who have risen to any challenge we face.

Q.How have you ensured that the business remains in good shape?

A. It was a forward-thinking decision to future proof our business by investing more than £300,000 in new IT-software. We are now seeing the benefits with more efficient processes and data benefiting all our customers.

Secondly, we took early action on Brexit and within six months of Procurement International BV in the Netherlands was formed. Our wholly-owned subsidiary commenced operation early in 2018 fulfilling all the premium brands we currently offer to intra-EU participants to ensure continuity of service no matter what Brexit brings us. This was another substantial investment but one we considered necessary to protect our scheme participants domiciled in the EU.

Q.How do you think the merchandise industry will change?

A. I don’t think that the industry itself will change too much however I do expect consumers’ demands and expectations to continue to put pressure on suppliers to be able to deliver solutions very quickly. In our personal lives we all benefit from retailers promising next day delivery and I expect this to cross over into business expectations as it becomes the ‘norm’.

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